It’s nothing business, it’s just personal

Stanford’s researchers used advanced linguistic tools to analyze nearly a million reviews of about six thousand restaurants and found a few interesting trends. 

First, expensive food and sexual language often went together. 

Next, cheaper food and drug language often went together. 

But the trend that caught my attention was, poor customer service was described in very personal language. 

Upset customers used words and word stems that included antagonize and heartbreakingly. And according to the linguistic researchers, these negative reviews strongly resembled the language of people who have been traumatized by tragedies or the deaths of loved ones. They’re trauma narratives that help cope with threats by portraying themselves as victims and seeking solace in community. 

Yikes. It was just an order of nachos. 

But that’s the reality of customer service most companies fail to realize. When people are rude or mean to us, it goes straight to our sense of self. Which turns the old adage on its head. 

It’s nothing business, it’s just personal. 

A cautionary tale for anyone who plans on opening a restaurant. You’re not there to sell a product; you’re there to become known for a unique way of interacting with the word. 

If you don’t have an enormous appetite for humanity, you might be in the wrong line of work. 


What’s your system for dealing with customer complaints?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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